South Africa: What Is Going On At the Bosasa-Run Lindela Repatriation Centre?


Lindela is a name associated with 22 years of abuse and infamy. The red-brick fortification looms just west of Johannesburg on the outskirts of Krugersdorp. In 1996 it was converted from a miners' hostel compound - housing synonymous with apartheid - into a holding facility for undocumented immigrants awaiting deportation. The place has never been free of scandal.

The players

There are three central players in South Africa's deportation process.

The first is the South African Police Service (SAPS), which arrests suspected irregular immigrants and detains them at a police station until their immigration status is determined. Detention must occur at one of the 445 police stations nationwide, declared as adequate places of detention for irregular foreigners pending deportation or transfer to Lindela.

The second is the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), which determines the status of immigrants, charges those found to be irregular, and is legally and administratively responsible for their transport, holding, processing, repatriation and release.

The third and, many would argue, most infamous is African Global Operations (referred to here by its former name Bosasa). Bosasa runs Lindela on the DHA's behalf, handling all catering, health, safety, accommodation and services at the facility.

An ill-fated alliance


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